Meal Prep Ideas to Enhance Your Workout NutritionBy DuBose Fitness
Meal Prep Ideas to Enhance Your Workout Nutrition
Most people don’t have too much trouble setting up a workout schedule. You know when your work and other obligations will prevent you from going to the gym, so you simply work around that.
However, exercise is only half of the equation. Your nutrition is equally important to your fitness success. Why is it, then, that so many people are caught unprepared when meal or snack time rolls around?
You can maximize your workout nutrition with just a bit of preparation! Here are some time (and stress) saving ideas to help you stay prepared to get the nutrients your body needs.
1. Preparation leads to success.
Once a week, take inventory of what’s in your pantry, your fridge and your freezer. Then, make a meal plan for the week. Don’t forget your pre- and post-workout snacks! Feel free to use items already in your reserves, but do make a grocery list of fresh produce and meats, too.
Once you’ve made your grocery list, stick to it! Better yet, why not use one of those shopping services grocery stores offer? This will help prevent impulse buys that lead to setbacks later.
Then, it’s time to prepare. Check your meal plan and prepare foods in advance. Some healthy foods freeze surprisingly well, like eggs, quinoa and even beans! Freeze these in meal-sized portions, and label according to the day of the week.
You may spend the better part of a Saturday or Sunday afternoon preparing for the week ahead, but you’ll find that the preparation saves so much time during the week. It also helps keep you on track to meeting your fitness and nutrition goals. When your meal’s already cooked, you’re not going to order that pizza!
2. Know your goals.
As you prepare your meals, you’ll need to keep your goals in mind. You’ll also need to know which foods will help you accomplish those goals.Bulking up and gaining muscle? Shop for and prepare:
- Brown rice
- Cottage cheese
- Veggies high in fiber
- Eggs (remember – eggs freeze!)
- Greek yogurt
- Lean meats like chicken and turkey
- Lean meats
- Egg whites
- Nuts (these store beautifully, right in your pantry)
- Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
- Wild caught salmon
- Tuna (packed in water)
- Fresh fruits and veggies
3. Know your nutrients.
If you’re not sure exactly which foods meet your goals, have a chat with your personal trainer! He can help you match your exercise goals to the right food, ensuring success.
In the meantime, here’s a basic rundown of what proteins, fats and carbs do for your body.
You may have heard that proteins are the building blocks of the body. It’s true! In fact, aside from water, most of your body is made of proteins. Proteins are essential for repairing and building muscle. Lean proteins will also stave off hunger during the day.Carbs
Don’t fall for the “no carb” fad diets: you need carbohydrates! They’re essential for providing you with energy, regulating your blood sugar and preventing you from binge eating during the day. They improve digestion when consumed as fiber and they help your concentration. Choose whole grains, fruits and veggies, avoiding sugary carbs you’ll find in processed foods and soft drinks.Fats
Like carbs, fats have a bad reputation. However, fat is critical to brain function, joint health, digestion and even your heart health. Strive to get your fats from fatty fish, eggs, olive oil, avocado, nuts and coconut oil. Seek to avoid vegetable oil, corn oil and other refined oils.
4. Get the right gear.
You can’t be prepared if you don’t have the right tools for success. Your arsenal should include:
- Plastic or reusable storage baggies
- Tupperware in a variety of sizes
- A water bottle to keep with you at work
- A lightweight water bottle to keep hydrated while you workout
- An insulated lunchbag or bento box and a Thermos for soup
- Mason jars (great for iced green tea, parfaits and overnight oats)
Remember that there’s a learning curve. If you run into something you need, online shopping means that item is just a click away!
5. Keep it simple… but interesting!
You’ll find that the more meal prep you do, the more inspired you’ll become. Here are a few tips to keep things lively.
- Stock up on spices and don’t be afraid to experiment!
- Stay well stocked with frozen fruits and veggies, too.
- Keep a mini-blender on hand. They’re great for sauces, smoothies and even homemade hummus.
- Invest in a good Crock Pot or Instantpot. These are awesome for chili, soups, quinoa and much more.
- Get an egg cooker! Yes, this is a thing! In about 20 minutes you can have perfectly cooked, easy to peel hard boiled eggs. These gadgets also make mini omelets, scrambled eggs and poached eggs. Brilliant!
- Spend the money on a good set of knives. Having chopped veggies at the ready makes food more flavorful and nutritious.
You don’t have to be a top chef to cook interesting, tasty meals. If all else fails, download a few healthy eating cookbooks to your e-reader and have fun experimenting!
6. Don’t rely on supplements.
Supplements can be a lifesaver. Did you rush out the door this morning and forget your lunch bag? It’s easy to run to the local shop and pick up a protein shake. However, they’re by no means a replacement for real, nutritious foods.
The absolute best way to get the nutrients your body needs is through whole, fresh foods. To put it simply, a shake now and then may be easy, convenient and nutritious. But relying on supplements can ultimately be detrimental to reaching your nutritional goals.